Fresh Produce Safety

Bag of lettuceWhen preparing any fresh produce, start with clean hands. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water before and after preparation. Wash all produce thoroughly under running water before preparing and/or eating. This includes produce grown at home, purchased from a grocery store, or bought at a farmers’ market.

Washing fruits and vegetables with soap, detergent, or commercial produce wash is not needed. It is important to wash the surface of the produce, even if you do not plan to eat the skin. Dirt and bacteria can be transferred from the surface when peeling or cutting produce. Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush. After washing, dry produce with a clean cloth towel or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present on the surface.

  • Many precut, bagged, or packaged produce items are prewashed and ready to eat. If so, it will be stated on the packaging and you can use the produce without further washing.Spinach label
  • Cut away any damaged, discolored, or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables before preparing and/or eating.
  • Make sure all cutting boards and knives used to cut fresh produce are washed in soapy water and rinsed before using again.

 

Source: Food Safety.gov

Tips for Fresh Produce Safety

  • washing vegetablesMake sure fruits and vegetables do not touch surfaces exposed to raw meat or poultry.
  • Thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables under running water before cutting, cooking, or combining with other ingredients.
  • The water should be slightly warmer than the produce.
  • Take time to thoroughly wash uncut leafy greens, such as lettuce and spinach. Remove outer leaves and pull the greens completely apart; rinse thoroughly.
  • Many precut, bagged produce items (like lettuce) are pre-washed. If the package indicates the contents have been pre-washed, you can use the produce without further washing.
  • Even if you plan to peel produce before eating, it is still important to wash it first. Drying produce with a clean cloth towel or paper towel may further reduce bacteria that may be present.
  • Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush. Refrigerate sliced melons, cut tomatoes, and cut leafy greens at 41° F or lower. These foods have been implicated in foodborne illness outbreaks and need refrigeration for safety.
  • Do not serve raw seed sprouts to high-risk populations. This would include elderly people, infants and preschool children, pregnant women, and anyone with a weakened immune system.
    For additional research-based, unbiased information on food safety, visit: www.iowafoodsafety.org

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